What Is Art Philosophy? [ Everything You Need To Know ]

What Is Art Philosophy? [ Everything You Need To Know ]

Art philosophy is a philosophical discourse directly related to art, artistic practice, and the values that lead to art creation. The field is uniquely cross-disciplinary, often drawing from aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, logic, metaphysics, ontology, and philosophical psychology.

Art philosophy can also be considered a theory about art and creativity. As such, it can transcend all boundaries within the arts. The following are some of the most notable philosophers who have impacted the work of their peers, including artists from different time periods. 


One of the most influential philosophers in Western history. According to Plato, the material universe is nothing more than a reflection of a realm of flawless forms or ideas that exists independently of it. In his view, art only reflected reality, it was bound to fall short of accurately portraying the physical world's flawless forms.

In addition, Plato thought that art might influence people's views of the world for the better or worse depending on how faithfully it represented the forms. He pushed for the banning of erotica and other forms of art he saw as socially destructive.

As a foundational text in Western philosophy, Plato's view on art has been examined and analyzed for centuries. Many academics have voiced their disagreement with this notion, arguing that it devalues the original creative act of artists and their unique imaginations.


Another ancient Greek philosopher who lived at the same time as Plato was Socrates, but whose idea of art is not as well recorded as Plato's is. It is well-established, however, that Socrates shared Plato's view that art ought to be ethically elevating and should not reflect unpleasant aspects of society.

Socrates is not known to have produced any texts on art theory and his opinions on the topic were carried down through the writings of his followers such as Plato.

Socrates felt that the objective of art is to educate and enhance the morality of the audience. He believed that the arts might be used to instill moral values and lead people to a deeper comprehension of the world. He felt that the artist should be held to high moral standards, as the artist's creations have the capacity to influence society and change people's ideals.

It should be emphasized that most of Socrates' understanding of art is assumed based on what is documented in the works of Plato and other Socrates's followers, Socrates himself has not left any firsthand account of his art Philosophy.


Plato's student and rival Aristotle held a theory of art that was distinct from Plato's. Aristotle felt that art could reproduce reality in a way that was true to life and beautiful, in contrast to Plato's view that art was simply a depiction of the physical world and could never completely capture the perfection of the forms.

According to Aristotle, the goal of any artistic endeavor should be to please the eye. He argued that artists should employ ideas like plot, character, and language to help viewers experience catharsis, or a release of pent-up emotions. He held the view that art serves as a vehicle through which viewers can empathize with the plights of the protagonists and the other characters.

Aristotle thought that art should do more than just amuse its viewers; it should also teach them something new and enrich their lives. He believed that art had the potential to instruct moral lessons and broaden viewers' perspectives.

The laws and principles of each art form, he thought, should be adhered to. Many later Western philosophers and critics drew inspiration from Aristotle's views on art and discussed, debated, and expanded upon them as they developed literary theory and criticism.

Erich Fromm

Psychoanalyst and social psychologist of the 20th century, Erich Fromm was born in Germany. His training in psychiatry and psychoanalysis gave him a fresh outlook on art philosophy.

Art, in Fromm's view, is one of the most basic human activities because of its significance to our emotional and psychological well-being. He thought art was important because it allowed individuals to share their feelings and gain insight into themselves and others through the process of creation.

Similarly, Fromm thought that art could be used to critique repressive social institutions and bring about positive transformation in individuals and communities.

Furthermore, Fromm argued that the aesthetic experience can serve as a form of instruction as well as an outlet for personal expression. He was of the opinion that art might be used to teach people about the world, to expose them to new ideas and ways of looking at things, and to expand their horizons.

He believed that artists should have an understanding of political and social issues and that they should use their work to empower the voiceless. According to Fromm, art serves a number of important social and psychological roles, including promoting individual and societal development.

Michel Foucault

Modern French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. His contributions to critical theory, social theory, and the philosophy of power have made him a household name. Though he didn't focus on the topic, many art theorists have taken his ideas on authority, expertise, and the role of institutions and applied them to their work.

Foucault felt that power is diffused throughout society rather than being held by any one group or individual. Power, in his view, was inherent in every facet of human contact. He maintained that power is not confined to individuals in formal positions of authority but rather is exercised through a web of informal relationships.

Some art historians have used Foucault's theories to investigate the production, reception, and regulation of creative works. Art historians contend that the social, political, and economic structures that influence the art world are just as important to understanding how art develops as the creative impulses of individual artists.

Foucault's theories are consistent with the idea of art's social construction, which argues that works of art are not objective but rather reflect societal power structures. They're connected to questions of authenticity, tradition, and the influence of art on the dissemination of information and public opinion.

Foucault's view of art emphasizes the connection between creativity and authority, as well as the impact of economics, politics, and social mores on the creative process.

Jean-Francois Lyotard

French philosopher and literary theorist Jean-François Lyotard lived in the 20th century. Famous for his contributions to postmodernism, he also wrote extensively on such topics as the relationship between art, language, and knowledge.

Lyotard maintained that great narratives, like the idea of progress popularized by the Enlightenment, have no place in the postmodern era.

He thought that the world had gotten too complex for any single story to adequately describe what was going on. He opined that contemporary society has developed a "incredulity towards metanarratives," or the belief that there is no overarching story or theory that can be applied across disciplines like art.

According to Lyotard, the function of art has shifted in the postmodern era, and now it serves as a metaphor for the disintegration of society.

He claimed that representational art, the basis for traditional forms of artistic expression, was irrelevant in the postmodern era. He felt that the world's disintegration might be reflected through art, and that artists should be encouraged to find new ways to express themselves as a result.

Lyotard said art should be understood on its own terms rather than judged by conventional aesthetic standards because of its potential to foster new modes of cognition and forms of knowing. He understood that modern artworks are not created to entertain but to provoke thought about the audience's place in the world.

For Lyotard, art is a means of portraying the disintegration of the world, and it must be analyzed on its own terms. Some postmodern notions of art and literature can be traced back to his writings.

Arthur Danto

Arthur Danto was an American art critic, philosopher and historian of art who lived in the 20th century. He is known for his work on the philosophy of art, and his theory of the end of art.

Danto's "end of art" theory rests on the premise that traditional forms of artistic expression—painting, sculpture, and so on—were inherently limited in scope and required a high level of technical expertise.

New kinds of art emerged in the 20th century, including conceptual art and the use of commonplace materials, which led him to conclude that the medium itself is no longer necessary to describe a work of art as such. He said that the ideas expressed in a work of art are more important than the medium in which they are presented.

Danto shared the view that works of art should be judged according to the ideas they express and the way in which they add to the discussion of art as a whole. He believed that art should be viewed as a form of conversation, with the aesthetic value of a work coming second to its conceptual or philosophical worth.

Critics, philosophers, and art historians have all had something to say about Danto's "end of art" notion and how it has shaped modern art theory.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol's view on art was based on leveling the playing field between "high" and "poor" art and making it available to everybody. He thought that commercially manufactured pictures from popular culture, such those found on packaging and commercials, were on par with more established forms of visual expression.

Silkscreened pictures of Campbell's Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles, as well as portraits of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, are among Warhol's most well-known works. He also dabbled in sculpture, video, and installation art, among many other forms of expression.

The use of vibrant hues and the transformation of commonplace objects into art forms became his trademarks. The concept of "seriality," or the repeating of items or pictures in a series, is another one he frequently employs.

Warhol's strange and mysterious public presence was a deliberate aspect of his artistic practice. Additionally, he was well-known for his studio, The Factory, where he created works of art and cinema and hosted well-known figures from the art world.

Graham Greene

Graham Greene was essential in the Postmodernist movement because he believed photographs should be a major part of art. Artists would later use this idea of photography reproduction to connect with their audiences.

His writing works, such as The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair, were widely hailed by critics. Characters and settings in Greene's works are often described in great detail, and he often delves into weighty moral and political themes. His protagonists frequently find themselves in thorny moral predicaments, and he frequently wrote about the collision of individual morality and political reality.

As well as the battle between good and evil, he frequently explored themes of guilt, redemption, and grace in his writing. Greene's prose is also notable for its moral ambiguity, which arises from the author's penchant for blending good and evil.

In short, Graham Greene is well-known for his works, which have intricate moral dilemmas, heated political and personal confrontations, and vivid depictions of settings and characters.

In Conclusion

To make sense of the huge and varied variety of art that exists in the world, we need a framework for understanding and appreciating art, and art philosophy offers us just that. It's knowledge for critiquing and analyzing works of art, as well as for comprehending the cultural and social influences that inform and develop them.

It provides a vocabulary and framework for talking about art, which breaks down barriers to entry. This paves the way for deeper discussions about art, which in turn promotes a greater appreciation for it.

In addition, artists themselves benefit much from engaging with art philosophy. Artists can gain insight into their own work and the larger world through art philosophy. It can also serve as a springboard from which creatives can launch their own distinctive bodies of work.

In a nutshell, art philosophy matters because it enriches our appreciation of art, stimulates thought-provoking discussions about it, and can even be useful to the artist themselves.

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